We had a great day today wandering around the hedgerow perimeter of The Oak Tree, gathering wild food and then preparing lunch from our haul! Here’s Dan Wheals, our medical herbalist CSA member describing the benefits of the many useful hedgerow plants.
This is the traditional “hungry gap” (April/May) in the vegetable garden, but, as if by magic, the hedgerows are full of fantastic edible greens at this time of year.
There are lots of wild leaves perfect for a spring salads – a favourite is hedge garlic.
Nettle soup proved popular at lunchtime, made very simply with onions, sea salt, pepper, oats and potatoes, flavoured with a bay leaf or two and liquidised well. This was a traditional spring dish said to “clean the blood” – certainly nettles are very rich in minerals. If you pick just the tips, say the first two or three pair of leaves, without gloves, it is easy to gather a reasonable quantity quite quickly and it is far less painful than you imagine. Go on, try grapsing the nettle!
Elderflower fritters were a universal success. Dipped in a thick batter (made with eggs from the farm, of course!), deep fried and then sprinkled with a little icing sugar, they disappeared almost as soon as they emerged from the pan!
Ok, so the wild food salad included a few less seasonal ingredients, but it did contain many different wild greens: dandelion leaves, hawthorn leaves, hedge garlic, dead nettle tips and the tips of cleavers.
The Alexanders were only a limited success, they were somewhat stringy. They were proably a little too old as they were starting to go to seed, I have enjoyed them on previous occasions. Jon and Gemma found some use for them – the stalks are hollow so they improvised a percussion set with them. You can hear this on the audio player below -pretty good I think you’d agree. Jon is a professional percussionist – a man who can make music from tough Alexander stalks really is blessed with an extraordinary talent!